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Elmira/Corning

Schools ponder fiscal future

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Schools ponder fiscal future
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The future of New York schools is in serious jeopardy, but if you ask most education advocates, they'll tell you the financial issues so many districts are facing can be fixed. Several ideas were presented to concerned community members in Canton Tuesday night. As our Barry Wygel tells us, no matter what, it's going to take a grass roots effort.

CANTON, N.Y. -- It's becoming tougher and tougher for schools to make ends meet.

"There are a lot of districts similar to Canton that are approaching desperate straits," said William Gregory, superintendent of Canton Schools.

Gregory and a number of superintendents came together Tuesday night to listen to Dr. Rick Timbs. Timbs represents 400 schools statewide and advocates for a change in the way state aid is allocated. He said there is a number of ways that it could be fixed, but that it won't be easy.

"Is it going to be problematic? Yeah. Is it going to be painful? Oh yeah. But guess what? What happens when we go bottom-up?" asked Rick Timbs, the Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium.

And Timbs says that a serious possibility. Over the past couple years, schools have been getting hit hard with cuts. They have been forced to cut programs, staff or use their reserves which are rapidly depleting.

"The Gap Elimination Adjustment has affected our ability to provide a quality education program for our kids and we are really at the point where we can go no further," said Gregory.

The message was that this is a problem that can only be fixed by the State Legislature. So Dr. Timbs urged everyone present to contact their local elected officials.

"When you meet with a legislator, a lot of times they will say 'Well, that's a good point, you brought up a lot of good points and I'm going to study that.' Well that's great, here's what I say, ‘Okay, I'll be back next week, we'll see how you do,’" said Timbs.

"This is something that has to come within, from the parents from the community themselves, so a grassroots effort is what is needed to take our case to Albany," said Gregory.

Schools are waiting and watching closely as the governor prepares next year's budget. But before that, they must watch as Washington deals with the fiscal cliff. If it is not dealt with an average sized school would lose up to $500,000.

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